While Senator Cory Booker, one of the elected officials closest to the American Jewish community, has heartbreakingly announced his support for the Iran deal, it does not mean he has to support the Democrats plan to kill the vote on Iran.
Today in DC I visited with Cory's senior colleague from New Jersey, Senator Robert Menendez, arguably Israel's greatest friend in the Senate and a leader of incomparable conviction and courage. He made it clear how strongly he believed that at the very least there ought to be a Senate vote.
Not allowing America's highest legislative body to even weigh in on what may be the foremost foreign policy agreement of our time makes a travesty of democracy and a mockery of representative government. Cory himself said so this week at Temple B'nai Abraham in Livingston. NJ.com reported that "in a surprise, [Booker] said that he would likely object if Democratic leaders tried to use a filibuster to block a vote in the Senate on this accord. Most observers expect a filibuster, if the accord can garner the needed 41 votes in support. That would avoid Obama having to issue a veto of a resolution opposing the accord."
Cory is essentially, the 41st vote. As he promised, it's time to object. He should stand by his pledge made just two days ago and ensure that the Senate votes on the Iran deal. On this issue there is no excuse whatsoever not to buck party and allow a vote. Whatever Cory felt about the deal - and I have already issued a lengthy rebuttal of his statement in support - he has pledged his support for a vote. He must honor his commitment as well as the basic commitment of a Senator to the democratic process.
Just this week Ayatollah Ali Khameini, according to The New York Times, "promised Israel continued hostility, saying 'the spirit of fighting, heroism and jihad will keep you worried every moment,' and predicting there will be no Zionist regime in 25 years.'" Here is the bloodthirsty Khameini pledging, right in the midst of the Iran Congressional debate, that he will first subject Israel to unrelenting terror attack and then destroy it within the next quarter century. In the face of these vile, wicked, genocidal plans, how in the name of God could any Senator legitimize this regime? It would all be comical if it weren't so tragic.
Cory is in a unique place to at least insist on a vote and not join the Democratic filibuster. He has one of the largest Jewish constituencies in the United States and has, going back 22 years when he served as President of my Jewish student group at Oxford, The L'Chaim Society, enjoyed a unique relationship with the Jewish community and unrivaled support.
Some may argue that this is already a done deal and it doesn't matter whether the vote happens or not. But for an issue that has been fought over this tenaciously and raised this level of disagreement and division within our nation, a true and fair vote is the only proper course to follow. The outcome of this vote, and the importance of this matter will decide the future of our nation on a par with the decisions made with regard to World War II and the Cuban Missile Crises. Cory personally wrote that Iran seeks the destruction of both Israel and the United States.
The safety of the world hinges on the success of this agreement.
President Obama should not be shielded from having to use his veto (for only the eight time) against the vote. This is the agreement he has insisted on. He needs to own it.
And if President Obama believes so strongly that this deal will actually succeed and keep the world safe, then he should proudly use his veto so that the American public and future generations will know that the responsibility for this, whatever the outcome, rests squarely on his shoulders. History will vindicate who was correct.
However, if Iran, God forbid, ends up a nuclear power through this deal, those who supported this agreement will be held accountable. Hiding behind a filibuster won't work.
Alan Dershowitz has argued that the Iran deal will lead to the inevitability of Israel being forced to preemptively strike, with the aid of Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies, against Iran's nuclear facilities. That in itself could start a Middle East war and perhaps a world conflagration. These are life and death issues. Let the Senate vote.
Another reason Cory and colleagues must do all they can to ensure this vote takes place is the hope that a better deal can be reached. A recent Pew poll revealed that the American public's support for the Iran deal has fallen from 33% in mid-July to an all time low of just 21%. What these numbers and trends reveal revealing is that as more cracks and holes in the agreement are revealed, there is still a chance the deal will be killed before it's too late. Every day brings more serious threats from the Iranians and more revelations of secret agreements.
A vote of disapproval will make it known to the entire world that there is huge opposition to this agreement, including the majority of the United States Senate and House. This will make a powerful statement from Republican leaders and the courageous Democrats who join them that America will never sign deals that give money to murderers and a path to nuclear bombs.
Not only the citizens of the US but also those of our allies who have rubber-stamped this arrangement can make their voices heard as the details of these hollow inspections echo across the globe. Iran's Mullahs may brazenly chant on a daily basis "Death to America" and "Death to Israel." But their true goal is death to anything that is not their radical version of Islam. At least with no deal, the world can see that Iran's singular, unalterable intentions are to go nuclear, and rather than be lulled into a sense of security, solid steps can be taken to avert this looming catastrophe.
At this point, having been rebuffed at opposing the catastrophic bargain with Iran that will endanger Israel's very existence, all I am asking from my friend of nearly 25 years is to allow the Democratic process to take its course. Allow the Senate to vote.
Shmuley Boteach, "America's Rabbi," whom 'The Washington Post calls "the most famous Rabbi in America," served as Rabbi at Oxford University for 11 years where he won The London Times Preacher of the Year Award. There he created The Oxford University L'Chaim Society which had Cory Booker as its President in 1993. Rabbi Boteach will shortly publish "The Israel Warrior's Handbook." Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.